May 30, 2007
VOTING: TAKEN IN BY HIGH-TECH
(Modified from version published in the Boulder Daily Camera, Sunday April 22, 2007)
Albert A. Bartlett
The New York Times observed that the electronic voting systems "could end up undermining democracy by producing unreliable election results that cannot be truly audited or corrected." (Nov.26, 2006) In order to allow a reliable audit and recount, it is necessary that there be real paper ballots. Computer memories won't do. Data stored in computer memories can be modified by hackers who can probably do their hacking without leaving a trace.
Investigations have been launched to try to discover what went wrong with the high-tech voting systems. The investigators must ask "Why would anyone in his or her right mind have ever thought that the computer-based voting system could function well in the first place?" "Who forgot about Murphy's Law?"
Let's look at the process at the voting places. Using computers at the polling places to verify the status of each voter by interrogating a central database sounds good in theory, but computer glitches can immobilize critical computers and this will leave long lines of voters standing and waiting, unable to vote because their registrations can't be verified. It is better to have the old traditional printed lists of registered voters at each voting place where the verification process is operated by our friends and neighbors. Remember Murphy was an optimist.